Archive for December, 2012

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Quick, Illegal, and Wrong

Monday, December 10th, 2012

ADAPSO Anti-Piracy Advertisement - 1985Piracy is as easy as hitting the Enter key on your numeric keypad.

27 years ago, the industry group Association of Data Processing Service Organizations (ADAPSO) created this public service ad warning of the evils of software piracy. I’ve transcribed its text below — just so you don’t miss it.

It’s easy to make a copy.
It’s quick.
It’s illegal.
It’s wrong.

It’s hard to believe.

People who wouldn’t think of shoplifting a software product on their lunch hour don’t think twice about going back to the office and making several illegal copies of the same software.

Making unauthorized copies of software is a violation of U.S. Copyright Law. Yet, the problem has reached epidemic proportions because many people are unaware, or simply choose to ignore the law. The software industry is urging decision-makers and software users to take steps to stop software piracy in their organizations. In the meantime, the industry has been forced to prosecute willful copyright violators.

There are legal, moral and economic imperatives forbidding theft of copyrighted software.

There is a free pamphlet on the subject. Call or write for a copy. A copy. A copy. A copy for everyone you know.
Please ask for Priscilla.

1300 North Seventeenth Street
Arlington, Virginia 22209
(703) 522-5055

“A copy. A copy. A copy. A copy.”

It really says that. I think it’s supposed to be a joke, albeit a very bad one.

ADAPSO changed its name to Information Technology Association Of America (ITAA) in 1991, although its supposedly current website is now owned by the International Trial Attorneys Association, so who knows if it even exists today.

[ From Compute!, November 1985, p.67 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first piece of software you ever copied (or received a copy of) illegally?

See Also: Why History Needs Software Piracy (2012)
See Also: [ Retro Scan of the Week] Software Piracy (2009)
See Also: [ Retro Scan of the Week ] “What’s Wrong With Copying Software?” (2008)
See Also: Old-School PC Copy Protection Schemes (2006)
See Also: EGM Advertisement: Sell Famiclones, Go to Prison (2006)

[ Retro GIF of the Week ] The Feminine Eye

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Eye Retro GIF - circa late 1980sClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ] [ 3X Zoom ]

This eye is more than meets the eye. You probably can’t see it at this size, but click on the “3X Zoom” link above and you might notice a face and what might be a shoulder (or a six-fingered hand) reflected in the pupil of the eyeball. Neat detail.

Unlike many GIFs that circulated back in the day, this one is signed — twice, in fact. In the upper left, we see a small box containing stylized letters spelling “The Mage.” In the lower right, we see “A.H.”

I’ve seen other GIFs with the same resolution and color depth signed “A.H.”, so I assume that is the artist. “The Mage” might have been the name of a BBS that happened to tag the image, or perhaps is was simply an alias of A.H.

When combined with its 320 x 200 dimensions, its odd 5-bit / 32-color color depth reveals that this image was created on an Amiga. That means it is likely that it did not originate as a GIF file, and that it could be older than the 1992 file date. But until I find an older source of the image, I won’t know for sure.

Retro GIF of the Week Fact Box
Source File Name: EYE2.GIF
Source File Date: August 6, 1992
Source File Format: GIF – 87a (non-interlaced)
Dimensions: 320 x 200 pixels
Color Depth: 5-bit (32 color) (Amiga OCS)
Origin Platform: Amiga
Derived From: Unknown
Creation Date: Unknown
Artist: Avril Harrison (Updated 12/11/2012)
If you know more about the origin of this image, please leave a comment.

Wikipedia is Deleting BBS Game History

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Wikipedia deleting BBS Door Game Entries

As we speak, certain vigilante Wikipedia users are hard at work erasing whatever scraps of little-known BBS door game history that resides in Wikipedia’s databases. The first casualty in this war was the entry for Space Empire Elite, which was deleted early this morning.

(For those of you unfamiliar with BBS door games, here’s a brief definition: BBS door games are computer games, usually text-only, that were traditionally played over modems and accessed through dial-up BBSes. They are called “door games” because users pass through a figurative “doorway” from the BBS software into another program (the game program) to play them. One of the most notable examples is TradeWars 2002.)

The problem, it seems, is that the games aren’t “notable” enough and lack the sources for a Wikipedia article.

[ Continue reading Wikipedia is Deleting BBS Game History » ]

[ Snapshots ] A Desk for a Mac Plus

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Benj's Mac Plus DeskA nice place to put a Mac Plus, I think. (December 2012)

[ Retro GIF of the Week ] The Empire Strikes Back

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Star Wars AT-AT Empire Strikes Back Retro GIF - circa 1988Click to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

The Empire Strikes Back is one of my favorite films of all time, so I have always cherished this particular image that someone uploaded to my BBS in the early 1990s. It depicts two AT-ATs walking through the snow in a scene recalling the Battle of Hoth from the 1980 film.

Its 16-color 640×400 format suggests a few possibilities as to its origin platform. IBM’s little-used MCGA standard (introduced in 1987) could do 640×400 at 16 colors, and so could a few “extended EGA” graphics cards on the IBM PC platform.

But so could the Amiga — in fact, 640×400 at 16 colors was its original high-end graphics mode. Since many early GIF files originated in the graphically rich culture of the Amiga (a machine well-known for its graphics capabilities), and since this file is dated 1988, and since MCGA adapters were scarce, I’d say this image most likely originated on the Amiga platform.

[ Update: 11/04/2012 – Since I originally wrote this, I’ve realized that this AT-AT image uses a 12-bit (4096) color palette (from that palette the artist could use 16 colors on screen at a time), which was unique to the Amiga platform. So this image definitely originated on an Amiga. ]

By the way, this image is actually signed by the artist. You can see a small “BMW” in the lower right corner (and we’re not talking about the German car company here). If anyone knows who BMW is, please leave a comment. That would be fascinating to find out.

[ Wondering what a GIF is? Read the introduction to this column. ]

Retro GIF of the Week Fact Box
Source File Name: ATAT.GIF
Source File Date: June 26, 1988
Source File Format: GIF – 87a (non-interlaced)
Dimensions: 640 x 400 pixels
Color Depth: 4-bit (16 color), 12-bit palette (4096 colors)
Origin Platform: Amiga
Derived From: Unknown
Creation Date: circa 1988
Artist: BMW
If you know more about the origin of this image, please leave a comment.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Quickshot Joysticks

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

QuickShot Joysticks by Bondwell - Python Maverick Starfighter Flightgrip Apache - 1991INSIST ON QUICKSHOT! THE GENUINE PIECE!!!

I own a few QuickShot joysticks, but I don’t believe I’ve used any of these particular models. Third-party console controllers weren’t all that popular in the age of the NES (relative to the 2600 days, at least), likely because the NES’s own pads (and the NES Advantage and Max) were so good to begin with. Same with the Genesis and Super NES. That fact alone probably killed a few third party video game peripheral companies that were hanging on from the Atari 2600 era, although the QuickShot brand lived on until the late 1990s.

[ From Video Games and Computer Entertainment, August 1991, p.21 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Did/do you commonly use third-party controllers for your classic video game systems? Which one is your favorite?